Tuesday, May 27, 2014

CapWire: Commonwealth Court To Hear Lawsuit Against $383M In Gas Fund Transfers

Capitolwire.com reported Tuesday Commonwealth Court will hear argument Wednesday in a lawsuit by the PA Environmental Defense Fund filed against the Rendell Administration for transfer over $383 million in proceeds in DCNR’s Oil and Gas Fund to the General Fund.
The practice continues under the Corbett Administration which proposes to transfer up to $75 million from the Oil and Gas Fund to support State Park and State Forest operations.
"The Foundation believes and avers that your proposal to lease additional State Forest land to supplement the Budget for the Commonwealth for the year 2010 with $180,000,000 is a decisions that will risk the ecological integrity of our State Forest system and is therefore an unlawful decision by you under Article I, Section 27 of Pennsylvania's Constitution,” said John Childe, attorney for the PA Environmental Defense Fund, when he filed notice of the lawsuit in March of 2010.
"This Amendment provides self-executing rights to all the people of the Commonwealth, and enumerates a duty as trustee over Pennsylvania's public lands, for the benefit of all the people of the Commonwealth.  As governor of the Commonwealth you bear the specific responsibility for insuring the rights and protection set forth in this Amendment.  These rights are mandatory, not discretionary.  You do not have the authority to violate them.
"As you know, the purpose of the Oil and Gas Lease Fund, the legislatively created fund where money from leasing state lands for oil and gas exploration is required to be invested, is to protect and preserve the Commonwealth's State Forest System and not to supplement the State Budget.
"As you are also aware, there is no need to require additional leasing of State Forest land.  The imposition of a Severance Tax would more than make up for the proposed leasing.”
The Defense Fund actually filed the lawsuit in March of 2012.

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